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Inequalities of AgingParadoxes of Independence in American Home Care$
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Elana D. Buch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479810734

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479810734.001.0001

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Independent Living

Independent Living

Housekeeping as Personkeeping

(p.151) 5 Independent Living
Inequalities of Aging

Elana D. Buch

NYU Press

This chapter argues that taking care of homes is inseparable from caring for persons in home care. The chapter shows how homes are invested with history and memories, becoming a material sign of older adults’ independence. In tandem with maintaining elders’ bodies, workers learn to maintain their clients’ homes to sustain their personhood. They attend to small details and suggest subtle changes to the home to make it safer or more inviting, drawing on their empathic and bodily knowledge of elders to figure out what changes will be palatable. Flows of people, money, and material goods link workers and elders’ homes. Agency policies attempt to restrict these flows, leaving workers struggling to maintain their own homes, pay the bills, and maintain their own sense of aesthetic order.

Keywords:   homes, home care work, older adults, independence, care, agency policies, personhood, inequality

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